Epsylon - The Guardians of Xendron takes the player on a journey to a futuristic world investigating a very special Science-Fiction setup. With a team of rather different characters the player investigates, and if required fights, his way through a large case. How you solve the case is though up to you. Combine the strength of your team members is important as no team member alone can crack the case alone.
Upgrade on the locomotion system, maps, inventory and game-play changes/updates.
Posted by Dragonlord on Jan 6th, 2009
A long time passed since the last update on this profile as all the updates went into the Drag[en]gine profile where they are situated more logically. Now it's time to show what also happens on this project for a change.
In the last News post of the Drag[en]gine ( which you might have slipped as it drowned in a mass commit ) the improved Animator System has been discussed. Text and images can not give enough clues about the power of this system, especially a power given to animators. In contrary to conventional systems or fully procedural systems no coding knowledge is required to build highly dynamic animations. Great way to keep your artists busy without waiting for the programmers/scripters all the time. As a little illustration of the system you can find here a video of the work in progress locomotion system used in the game. There are a few animation variations missing ( mainly turning and transition animations for extreme cases ) but the rest is working needing only some refinements. Good thing is that a large number of variations on these animation ( holding and using items ) can be generated without requiring your animators to produce animations for all situations. Another advantage is the way this game handles the first person camera. All camera movement is governed by animations ( and therefore the animators you create ). In the video you can see a test session cycling through various combinations of walking, running, crouching, moving sidewards and looking around as seen by the ego-camera and the movie-camera. Especially notice how the head bobbing for running is small if you run straight ahead but gets wonky if you run sidewards ( all animation driven, including looking around ). Also there's a slight lag in the change of walk direction which will be higher when carrying large objects to give the player a better feel for the weight of what he carries. With this you can move around maps without having to use side-step keys all the time as required for most FPS games.
One of the problematic points in developing this game has been the aimed for game mechanic goals. A lot of time in the recent month went into validating the usefulness and especially do-ability of certain ideas in the design document. Some withstand the tests others showed to be problematic and got either dropped or reworked. One of the main points has been the inventory system. The old system allowed for multiple inventories which sounded nice on paper but actual play testing showed various troubles with this system. The inventory system went trough various reshapes to find a balance between the aimed goals and good game flow. After all the main game mechanics involve rich interaction with the environment/world, crafting your own devices ( MacGyverism ) and solving tasks using your own mind. To avoid too much distraction with the inventory the system has been reduced in complexity. Players have now a list with VIPs ( very important possession ) which they can neither loose nor do they add to encumbrance or consume inventory space and a sizable inventory. Each actor ( of which you have multiple in your team ) can equip besides other stuff one baggage type item. This item indicates the size of the inventory and how much the actor is encumbered. The two added images show the current inventory dialog in-game as well as a mock-up with some large inventory ( for example a large backpack ) containing a sample cast of items and a smaller one ( for example a smaller backpack or a shoulder bag ) for comparison. The larger one can carry more but also has a larger impact on the agility of the actor. The rest should be self explanatory. The layout of the screen is not final. As we have some free space left we will most probably add some more infos about the items like the attachment slots they have. Drag and drop interaction is implemented and can be easily used.
The cloth system is now working. A bit a strange name but this simple means that you can equip cloth and other items and they reflect on your actor. Known from RPG games and therefore is no new thing to gamers. If a cloth is equipped the underneath human actor body part is not rendered. So here only the head and hands are rendered. The rest are individual items. Uses the Drag[en]gine collider attachment system for this. No code required, just plug it in and it's working. For adding quickly new cloth you can use XML files now. No code required for this.
Furthermore the first map of the introduction chapter ( which is going to be a sort of live-tutorial as it is done often nowadays ) has been worked on. In the above video some parts of the map can be seen. It stretches though further outside the view ( where the game will start ) and includes a main valley through which the player approaches the building and a smaller side-valley which is required to solve a later puzzle ( but more I will not disclose yet ). There's no texture paint on the terrain yet since we use this as a little playground for testing out ways to generate this texture masks for faster working later on.
Besides all this the skin of Sean has been improved and except some seem fixing and a few small tweaks on the wings ( to make the color better bleed over ) it's done. The back fins are also something to fix up later but that's pure texture work. Sam also got some cloth to wear around as well as a fix up of the Armature for animation and a cast of new animations. Still needs a fix on the hands ( higher polygon count and fixing a mistake in the bones structure ) and some eyes.
Updates on this project will be always a bit slower and less until the Drag[en]gine is released. This is done since people would like to take a stab at the game engine before the game itself is out. Work continues on adding interactions with the world, improving the first map and adding more props and items.
So stay tuned for the next news post on either profile.